The Walking Dead Review: 'Try'

Monday, 23 March 2015 - 9:57AM
Zombies
The Walking Dead
Reviews
Monday, 23 March 2015 - 9:57AM
The Walking Dead Review: 'Try'
In the penultimate episode of this season of The Walking Dead, tensions finally began to boil over between the Rickettes and the Alexandrians, most notably with Rick going full-on Shane and attempting a one-man takeover. Like Shane, he's ostensibly trying to keep the group safe by placing them under tough and streetwise leadership, but is unable to get his perfectly legitimate messages across as a result of his petty and self-serving motivations.

By the end of the episode, Rick is a bloody stain on the idyllic civilization of Alexandria, resorting to violence when it's completely unnecessary, raving like a lunatic, generally disturbing the peace. But the writers managed to set up an interesting dynamic in which he was actually right most of the time. Domestic violence is a terrible crime and needs to be dealt with; maybe it should be handled differently because Pete's a surgeon, but it still needs to be handled. Deanna's hope that "it would get better" is either hopeless naivete or a convenient lie (my bet is on the latter), because, as a former police officer would know, domestic violence always escalates. The Alexandrians are wholly unprepared for the world outside, they're terrible at supply runs or any other mission that forces them to venture outside their walls, and they do, in fact, need the Rickettes' help. Their lack of preparedness was never in dispute; it's why the Rickettes were offered a place to stay to begin with. 

Like Shane, Rick is actually correct most of the time when his ideas are distilled to their purest form, but he's going entirely the wrong way about enacting them. This season has gradually built to the idea that Rick is genuinely losing it (again, I guess), and this episode delivered on that character arc in spades. The Alexandrians want to work with the Rickettes, they want to learn from them. It would likely take some time and patience to help them get with the program, but it's not a dire situation yet. People like Rick and Sasha are acting like the walkers will knock down the walls any day now, but realistically, the Alexandrians have lasted this long. They can't count on good luck forever, but they can probably count on it long enough to allow Rick and Michonne to do some clever maneuvering and obtain some influence. I personally think both groups can learn from each other, and I think characters like Michonne and Glenn would agree with me, but even someone as ruthless as Rick should be able to see that they'll catch more flies with honey than vinegar in this situation. (He could learn a lot from Carol in that area.)

And if Rick had anything resembling a clear head, he would have been able to point out the hypocrisies inherent to Deanna's policies. She claims that they will never execute Pete because they're "civilized," and Rick didn't even manage to get out the obvious zinger, "Is it civilized to allow a man to beat his wife to his heart's content?" Then there are the little problems that a) our own "civilized" society does, in fact, have the death penalty, although not for domestic abuse, and b) exiling people who are untrained to live in the outside world is arguably tantamount to executing them. 

But he wasn't in a position to make any of these arguments, or to form any kind of diplomatic relations with the Alexandrians, because he's not acting from a place of pragmatism. He'd like to believe he is, but he's actually just become both hardened and myopic from living outside for too long, and he's just becoming a little unhinged. As I said in my review of "Forget", he's been outside of civilization for so long that he only knows how to externalize his animalistic impulses. He's motivated by fear, aggression, and sexual feelings for Jessie, rather than what's actually best for the group. This was made clear when the show juxtaposed Pete hitting Jessie with Rick backhanding Carl out of the way; Rick has no moral high ground here, he just wants to believe he does.

All of this was a relatively satisfying conclusion (or part one of the conclusion) to the slow-burning conflict between the Rickettes and the Alexandrians, and everything else felt a little like filler. As I've said before, Sasha's impending nervous breakdown is difficult to take an interest in, if only because her character hasn't been particularly developed up to this point. And while there was nothing too objectionable about the scenes between Carl and Enid, the subplot felt like it was in the wrong episode, as this episode should have been exclusively devoted to building suspense before the finale.

But the latter subplot had one moment that served as a thematic tie-in to the rest of the episode; Enid and Carl hide from walkers in a hollowed-out tree and she says, "It's their world, we're just living in it." This line highlights the contrast between the Rickettes and the Alexandrians; Alexandria was built on the notion that they can have a safe haven from the walkers, that they can live in their own world apart from them. But the Rickettes know that a "safe haven" is a transient illusion, and that the "real world" lies outside those walls and will eventually find its way inside. Significantly, the line isn't spoken by Carl, but by an Alexandrian, the one who has suffered the worst trauma and who knows what it's like "out there." Enid, Sasha, Michonne, Rick, etc all keep venturing outside the walls and killing walkers seemingly for the hell of it, but really because they feel more at home that way. If Alexandria is "better," the walker-filled forest is more real.

Afterthoughts

-The scenes between Glenn and Nicholas were also electrifyingly tense, and very true to the compassionate yet hardcore person that Glenn has become. This line in particular was very powerful: "People like you are supposed to be dead, but these walls went up just in time, so you're not."

-Someone is probably going to die next episode, and I hate to say it, but it's probably going to be Glenn, especially now that it's been revealed that Nicholas stole Rick's handgun.

-I loved that Michonne punched Rick's lights out. It was entirely justified, and her subplot laid foundation for that choice, particularly when Rosita pointed out that she didn't bring her katana on the hunt. She may have some trouble adjusting to civilization, as was shown when she genuinely enjoyed killing walkers again, but unlike Rick, she's trying (episode title!), which makes all the difference.

-Rick and Jessie's interactions were somewhat inconsistent in this episode. Most of the time, it seemed that Jessie, and the audience, were meant to believe that Rick was overstepping his bounds as a result of an inappropriate attraction, no more, no less. But then the moment where she accepted his help because he "wouldn't do it for anyone else" seemed to be both contrary to his self-righteous sheriff nature and making their relationship out to be more significant than it is, at least from what we've seen so far.

-It's a good thing that in the zombie apocalypse, they have an unlimited amount of ammo and guns with the capacity to hold an infinite number of bullets. I'm no gun expert or anything, but the lack of realism seemed especially ridiculous in this episode.

-Where were Maggie and Gabriel? In an episode that was all about the two groups' mutual distrust, the absence of any fallout from Gabriel's betrayal seemed like an oversight. I suppose they're saving it until next week, but it was strange that the characters weren't even present.

-The naked, disemboweled woman tied to a tree was truly horrifying, and makes me both dread and look forward to the official introduction of Negan and the Wolves.
Science Fiction
Sci-Fi TV Shows
Zombies
The Walking Dead
Reviews